Red Light, Green Light: The Contingent Workforce in the Automobile Industry | DCR Workforce Blog

Red Light, Green Light: The Contingent Workforce in the Automobile Industry

On the DCR blog, we keep talking about contingent work and how the use of contingent workers is growing exponentially. Contingent work programs owe their growth to some industries more than others, and for obvious reasons, the automobile industry is among them. From losing 6 million workers between 2000 and 2010, manufacturing is seeing a resurgence, yet workers are hesitant to believe that the good times are here to stay.

The manufacturing industry, of which automotive industry is a part, always found contingent workforce programs offering them an ideal solution to increase production levels on demand as well as build a pipeline of future hires. Instead of being the last resort of companies looking to reduce labor costs, contingent workers today bring in industry-specific training with them to help streamline the operations of any manufacturing company looking to enhance its workforces, without compromising its agility and increasing its costs.

Why contingent workforces suit the automobile industry

How does the contingent workforce help the automotive industry?

  • For many an industry in the manufacturing space, workforce requirements fluctuate significantly. Finding the required workforce in automobile manufacturing skills isn’t as easy as before, since the skilled workforces moved to other jobs and today’s technical training covers other skills since most manufacturing got offshored.
  • The automobile industry requires team assemblers who accomplish tasks on an assembly line to produce cars, whether a completed product or a component. Use of contingent workers in the automotive industry is more attractive thanks to staffing firms that specialize in supporting the whole of manufacturing industry by providing highly trained and experienced contract workers with high levels of industry-specific training to meet the required standards.
  • With manufacturing getting re-shored to the U.S., the uncertain market conditions encouraged employers to depend more on contingent workers than full-time employees. Their understandable caution led them to increase production slowly and put off full-time hiring until they were convinced of the sustainability of business prospects and growth opportunities. This approach seems to have become more or less a permanent part of manufacturing companies including the automobile sector.
  • Contract jobs are not only about unskilled jobs any more. Very high-skilled jobs are also equally dependent on contingent workers. With the growing sophistication of manufacturing processes and the use of robots in manufacturing, many positions in manufacturing today require more education and training than they ever did in the past.
  • The work is monotonous and repetitive, like on the assembly line in the auto industry, where workers find themselves – over time – utterly unwilling to do the same thing, day in and day out. Such a situation is bad for the morale of the workers and the productivity of the assembly line and possibly the quality in the longer run. This issue can be resolved by opting for contingent workers as a better option and by allowing people to move in, do a gig, leave and come back again as the pay makes things worth it – for a while, anyway.
  • Recruiting contingent workers makes it possible to outsource the recruiting, screening, interviewing, training the hiring of candidates needed on a seasonal or project basis, which is a great convenience. The arrangement also offers a trial period during which an employer can evaluate the workers and vice versa – to explore a less transient or more permanent workplace relationship.
  • By taking up contingent work, workers can learn new skills or sharpen and expand their existing skillset, opt for a career change and enjoy work that offers flexibility with commitment and schedule as well as establish some work experience in an important role or company.
  • Once assured of their long-term need for the skillset offered by the worker, the employer could try to convert the contract worker to a permanent position. The auto industry has perfected the art of motivating its workers through appreciation for their quality of work, rewards and a gainsharing system which assures them a share of the company’s profits. Some workers also get career improvement to supervisory roles.

Manufacturing has advanced beyond traditional, manual jobs to embrace advanced manufacturing methods, required specialized skills which require proper training. The only way a company can access the skills it requires from workers is adopting a collaborative approach which ropes in the community colleges to design specialized training programs which meet their specific needs. This supportive environment surrounding the automotive industry bodes well for its prospects in the United States.

If you’re in the automotive industry, what trends do you see regarding the contingent workforce?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.